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IMPORTANCE OF THE DUTY TO CONSULT & ACCOMMODATE

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ENTERPRISE AT FORT WILLIAM FIRST NATION For over two centuries, the Indians of Fort William have been involved in commercial and non-commercial land-based ventures both on and off-reserve. FISHING Following the activity of the fur trade, the fishery on Lake Superior thrived as a robust economy for the Hudson’s Bay Co and others. The industry was dependent on First Nations as employees for fishing, packing, curing and other activities related to the transport of large volumes of fish. Between 1835 -1837, the Hudson Bay Company at Fort William alone consumed 20,000 pounds of salt fish and 7,500 pounds of fresh fish. The Fort William Indians continued to be active participants in the fishing industry into the 20th century, even though exclusive fishing rights weren’t recognized. Unfortunately, by the time fishing rights were acknowledged most of Lake Superior had been fished out. Throughout most of the 20th century, several Fort William Indian families operated under commercial fishing licenses. AGRICULTURE By the mid-1880s, Fort William Indians who had settled in the Mission had become successful farmers. In 1883, hundreds of acres of land were cleared, garden vegetables were grown for markets in Port Arthur and Fort William, and 123 head of cattle were raised. By 1890, to expand the thriving economy, swampland was drained for more grazing land and 800 bushels of seed was set-aside for the next season. Fort William Indians competed in the Port Arthur Agricultural Fair and won many prizes for produce and animals. In 1894, over a ton of raspberries were sold. TIMBER In the late 1880s, Fort William First Nation entered into commercial dealings with a local timber company and sold the timber on the reserve. Many people were employed cutting cordwood and received royalties. The building of elevators by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company and work in the lumber camps gave employment to many. MINING In the late 1890s, Silver Islet on Lake Superior’s Sibley Peninsula was the site of a rich pure silver ore body. $3.25M worth of silver was mined between 1870, when the mine opened, and 14 years later when the mine closed. Some Fort William First Nation members worked at the mine and brought their families to live with in Silver Islet. Fort William First Nation was best source of gravel and rock in the vicinity during the building of Port Arthur and Fort William during the 1870s and the major railway terminus in the early 1900s. Enterprising band members wanted to buy a rock crusher to expand the industry. Inhibited by the Agents of the Indian Department to undergo this initiative, quarrying rights and other aggregate rights were sold to other companies. Fort William First Nation worked the quarries and the gravel pits while receiving royalties from the sales until the 1950s. Many FWFN quarries were leased to the City of Fort William throughout the 1900s to 1950s. 20

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